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Old 02-17-2013, 07:45 PM   #21
Wilbur
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

The points are clean, and only have about 200 miles on them. Each time l opened them, a small spark occurred there, but the high voltage spark from the coil wire only occurred once in a while.
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:47 PM   #22
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

I bought the same dist you bought from the same vendor . Installed the dist . car would not start took dist out and apart found incoming wire touching housing . Moved wire off of housing put dist in car and started her up . Car ran for about and hour and then had the symptoms you describe. Lets see new dist ,points , cond . so can not be these three items so was thinking about working on the carb then I rembered what I had read on FB that 95% of carb . problems were electrical so I thought the situation and decided to change out the condenser . Problem solved . Also replaced the point with more robust points from NAPA . So I wonder if these dist are not tested prior to sales .
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:53 PM   #23
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Faulty ignition switch can cause exactly the same problems you are describing Karl
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:54 PM   #24
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Why haven't you tried a new condenser--or your old one?

Other straws to grasp at are loose connection on the ammeter (applying a jumper wire across the junction box terminals is a temporary fix/test for that) and a dying ignition switch (I've replaced about 6 of them in my career--they'll make you crazy).
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:59 PM   #25
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

With a testlight one side of the coil should have a constant 6v. The other should flash the testlight everytime you open and close the points with the key on which fires the coil.
This would prove out the other wiring,switch etc
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:22 PM   #26
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

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Originally Posted by Wilbur View Post
Mike, thank you for the explanation. Given the details, what's your opinion of my issue? Is my coil done for?
All of the possibilities the fellas have suggested are plausible, and that makes it kinda fun, like playing "Clue". When it gets too drawn out, like a monopoly game stalemate (3 days!!) the fun dwindles.

I'm not one to react like a modern car pseudo-mechanic and suggest you just start replacing parts 'till you win, but a condenser is a part that is difficult to check under actual working voltage, engine heat, and frequency conditions. It is cheap and easy to swap out, so I'd start there. A meter test will tell the static capacitance and DC leakage, but that can be deceiving. If it is not the condenser, that's OK, it's always nice to have a known-good one in your trick bag of Model A tidbits. Go from there.

A coil is also difficult to test under heat and working conditions for internal insulation break-down and partial winding shorts. It is EXPENSIVE, so I'd run down everything else suggested in the replies first, unless you have a dizzy test machine or you're Rockefeller or have a bucket full of spare Model A coils, one of which may be good.

It was Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick. Do I win or am I out?
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:39 PM   #27
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Being a Sunday afternoon, l lacked a spare condenser to try. I do have spares for my original unit, but not for the modern upper plate. Spares will be in my ditch bag from now on! Gonna hit NAPA tomorrow for both a coil and condenser.

Mitch, I put a meter on the coil terminals and had 6.2 V on each side with the key off. I didn't try a test light to see if it flashes when the points are manipulated. It's beer time! I'll try it tomorrow. Thanks.
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Old 02-17-2013, 09:30 PM   #28
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

If the switch, wires, and connections are good then I'd try the condenser first, and points next. I've seen points new out of a sealed box that didn't work even though they looked clean and good.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:39 PM   #29
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

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Originally Posted by Wilbur View Post
Being a Sunday afternoon, l lacked a spare condenser to try. I do have spares for my original unit, but not for the modern upper plate. Spares will be in my ditch bag from now on! Gonna hit NAPA tomorrow for both a coil and condenser.

For testing purposes, you could simply connect one of your other condensers to the + side of the coil terminal itself and ground the condenser to the firewall.

From what it sounds, based on your spark 1 out of 8 times you open and close the points, I'd certainly blame the coil. This really does not sound like a condenser problem, unless the condenser was very leaky and nearly shorted. If you can, please remove the wire from the condenser and put an ohm meter from the wire to the condenser case (ground). The ohm meter should start at some decently high resistance and then climb up in resistance until it shows infinite open. If not, then it's bad.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:35 PM   #30
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

So, l put a new condenser in there and she runs like a champ! Another victim of the fine quality of outsourced manufacturing!
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:45 PM   #31
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Glad to here it
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:50 PM   #32
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

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So, l put a new condenser in there and she runs like a champ! Another victim of the fine quality of outsourced manufacturing!
Now, you're always going to carry a spare, right? As with umbrellas, always carrying one is the only way to guarantee you'll never need one.
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Old 02-18-2013, 01:27 PM   #33
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Now that one becomes your spare. Write tested OK and the date or something like that on it with a marker. Go get another one.
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:13 PM   #34
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

And be sure to destroy the bad one, so it doesn't get mixed in with good parts or accidentally used.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:10 PM   #35
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Excellent ideas. Keeping this good one as my spare.... Great. However, the one that let me down Saturday night had run fine for a few hundred miles.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:20 PM   #36
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

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Excellent ideas. Keeping this good one as my spare.... Great. However, the one that let me down Saturday night had run fine for a few hundred miles.
A few hundred miles is nothing. It should have lasted many years and thousands of miles. Use a tubing cutter to open the case on the bad one, then you'll have something to take to the next club meeting for show and tell.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:53 PM   #37
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?





If you have an original Ford script bad condenser, you can carefully open it up and replace the insides with a modern part. I did a couple just to see how hard it would be to do it and to see how well it woould work. I'm still using one of these in the picture, which I cut apart and changed 3 years ago.

It's tough to unroll the crimped end, so the second one I did I used a tubing cutter and soldered the seam.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:43 AM   #38
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Wilbur,
Wow.. lots of good posts! Troubleshooting should be a very logical path to get to the core of the problem. Do you have a digital volt/ohm meter. If so, start checking for voltage and any drop in your primary (low tension side) of ignition. Dist. cap/rotor out, check voltage at points ( open) , coil, igntion switch... voltage should be roughly the same. If not you have a bad connection somewhere.

A high percentage of carburetor problems are electrical. check and make sure all your connections are tight., coil wires, ignition switch ( yes, you could have an bad /intermittent ignition cable/switch), Even though it's a "new" distributor have you pulled the cam up and upper plate up to make sure there isn't a lower plate/screw loose/pigtail issue, or otherwise. Lower plate not shorting anywhere, including ignition cable not screwed in too far causing lower plate to short against housing. I like gluing a small piece of rubber as an insulator when doing housings where the lower plate would fit close as insurance when the cable would be screwed in. Some cables have a longer plunger than others.

Finally, yes, you have checked all the essentials, gap, retimed/timing,spark. I have also seen where the rotors cause these kind of problems, even hard-no start or hard start and poor running. Sometimes it's little witnesses, like a small wear hole in the rotor, so small you can barely detect it... and it causes the high tension spark to go through the rotor. so... have you tried a new rotor and cap. Cap quality varies greatly. Is the rotor tip aligned to the body? Little things... pay attention to detail, use your meter, troubleshoot logically. Make sure you have correct consitent low tension voltage where it should be, if not, find/fix problem, then ensure high tension side is OK.
Test... Don't guess! ( that's the old Sun Slogan)

If you have someone who is electrical/test equipment equiped/savoy, you can always have your condensers and coils checked. I do them on an early Ford Heyer test set so I know exactly what is good and bad. Model A condensers should read .20-.25 microfarads, coil primary about 1.2-1.4 ohms, high tension 10KV-18KV (need proper test equipment for this, no meter).

With a good calm, logical path, non shotgun troubleshooting tecnique I'm confident you will locate the trouble.. and learn in the process. It is the best way. Good luck
Larry Shepard


p.s., yes at 55lbs your compression is fine, not low, and your spark plugs are wet because to too much fuel ( choke from trying to start). ensure plugs are clean, gapped properly, and tight.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:48 AM   #39
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Tom,
That was a lot of work! I love to see detail to those lengths! If your really desperate and need a nos ford there are some out there... IF you can't find drop me a PM. I have them from time to time. I like the A&L burnout proof units for service. They are fit and functionally the best. Unless you're going fine point there is no other to use.
Larry
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:40 AM   #40
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Default Re: Bad Condenser Symptoms?

Hello to all.

I joined this forum today to post in this thread. I have one of those 'new' Fords (a 1963 Ford Ranchero). I did a 'google' search for 'symptoms of bad points' and your forum came up 2nd. After reading this post I realized that Wilburs problem was exactly the same as mine. Started random missing, kept getting worse to the point of not running. I had changed the points and condenser about 2 weeks before so I figured it didn't make sense that it could have been either, however the symptoms pointed that way. I knew I was due for a rebuilt carb anyway and had the chance to get one at a good price, put it on and still no difference. Changed fuel pump and filters still the same problem. Finally did my google search and found your thread. This morning I swapped out the condenser and she fired right up! With the new carb she runs like a new car! Even with the success I have ordered a Pertronix electronic ignition to eliminate the points / condenser.

Again I just wanted to say thanks for a great thread!

Gordon
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